The morality of striving for economic success

Andrea Garcia, Staff Writer

Is The American Dream really dead? These three little words bring such an influx of emotions for us. This isn’t surprising; there are so many strings for you to tug on, leading to a never-ending jumble of stories, issues, heated arguments, and events some people would rather forget happened, tangled up in a tedious ball to unwind. If you have ever put your earbuds in your pocket, you understand; that’s when AirPods had the little string attached for the people who don’t speak ‘broke.’ Plus, it’s a generally jumbled topic. For instance, at this point, I can diverge into talking about how financially, the quintessential American Dream is far too expensive for the majority of the population. As calculated by USA Today, “… living the American dream would cost the average family of four about $130,000 a year” (Gold, 2014). According to the U.S. Census Bureau, roughly one in eight households earned that much money in 2013. So, is the American Dream, as defined in the 21st century, even achievable? However, we’re not going to talk about that — yet. Instead, I want to address the idea that wanting the economic success of the American Dream is not selfish. At its core, the American Dream is selfless. 

When trying to climb up the socioeconomic ladder, you’re going to be hurting somebody in the process- intentionally or not, you will. But that’s business, right? Hurting people is a part of business, part of chasing the economic freedom that’s promised by the American Dream. There’s a lot of corruption going on when money is involved, and lots of injustices. Elon Musk is referred to as a genius, success story, the real-life Iron Man, yet earlier on in the year, he made a 10% budget cut in the workforce for his company SpaceX with little warning to those employees. Tough choices have to be made, though at whose expense? I understand how economic success can be seen as selfish, but that’s not what the American Dream was all about.

Originally, the American Dream said that equality of opportunity allows you to achieve your dreams if you put in the time and effort towards them; be a dreamer, be a hard worker, and see great rewards for it. Many correlate this with the ability to support their families and ensure their children’s future: that their children won’t face the same struggles that they did and can go even further than them. Thus, these children strive to bring their parents’ hopes and dreams for them, their hard work, to fruition. The cycle then continues. When these children earn a higher paying career, they buy for themselves and their family things that they were not able to when they were younger. They buy nicer houses in better areas than that of which they grew up in. This isn’t selfish. This is providing.